There are no commissioners or investigators and the crime does not reach a very advanced stage in history. And yet, The circular summer (Club Editor; The unbreathable summer, in Spanish, in Crossbooks) has already won four black awards in France, including the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière. Perhaps because it does draw a latent, everyday violence that does not attract attention; “Normal”, go: a hand behind a girl, house slaps, some sexual harassment, forced sex in marriage, a violent husband and father, bitter and racist comments under the false format of the joke, petty theft … “We already know the big explosions of violence, the interesting part is in the small details, why they are like this and why the characters commit them; these difficult situations have accompanied me for a long time “, explains the author, Marion Brunet (Vaucluse, 1976), who has worked for 15 years as a social educator, an experience that has allowed her to make one of the most hyperrealistic portraits of today’s French society. .
After five juvenile novels, the leap into adult literature and under the tablecloth polar (“It’s the only one that allows a good look at society”), is based on the story of two teenage sisters aged 16 and 15, Céline (“mosquito brain, queen harbor”) and Jo (“ wilder than fierce ”), daughters of a couple who go just to pay the mortgage on their single-family home in a small town in the French Midi, a beautiful area with second homes, but the family lives in an urbanization where they are supported, more than they coexist, French of strain-rel with immigrants. Everything is sadly bearable until Céline becomes pregnant with no one knows who.
The young women spend the summer in the mall or in the pools of the chalets where they sneak at night. They grow up alone, without anyone telling them anything, a situation that even they seem to regret, but not much because all the characters have few future horizons and the atmosphere (described in a succinct and elegant style, attentive to detail) does not exude some circular predestination of their lives: social classes do not jump and races do not mix.
“I do not believe in the social elevator at all: the system basically wants no one to move from their social class. I’m not saying that leaving the circle in which you move is impossible, but it is very difficult “, sums up Brunet. And it is not just the portrait of inland France: “It is present throughout the country, what happens is that in the smaller regions it is more serious due to the lack of opportunities, because the culture is dripping.”
From this leaden spiritual sky is perhaps saved a Self that can avoid vocational training to enter high school, hope that the writer sums up with the metaphor of having given birth to her with eyes of different colors. “School in France is another scenario of inequality, there are young people with very different cultural backgrounds and these differences do not change,” says Brunet, comfortable despite this speech, in the strip crossover between juvenile and adult literature in which some place his work.
If the violence is subtle, racism is rampant, it is shown bluntly: for many characters in the novel, Arab and Islamist terrorism are synonymous. And not even Manuel, the girls’ father, who is a descendant of Spanish Republican exiles, is saved from this. “Racism is total, without subtleties. If you are a foreigner, it doesn’t matter where you come from … The village I describe is where I grew up and I remember that there it is said that everyone who does not have ancestors buried in the cemetery is a foreigner ”, he explains. He adds: “What has been observed in recent years is that this racism is also exercised by those who have been victims, and accuse and download the same codes and clichés about the newcomer.”
Brunet, who may be a guest figure at the BCNegra festival in late January 2021 if the coronavirus allows, is confident that the attitude of young people will change, a hope that can be seen in the relationships that Jo maintains with a young Arab neighbor. since they were little. But it must be remembered that the young man who beheaded a 16-year-old history teacher in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine (near Paris) who had taught his students caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad was barely 18 years old. “I am not a sociologist or a political scientist to have an explanation for a tragedy like this; my preparation is more of psychology, that’s why in my works it shows the most intimate part of a character, as I do with Manuel, victim and executioner at the same time ”.
Great social gap
The environment in which the characters move is not one of extreme poverty; instead, in real life he is a voter of the extremist National Front, the author admits. “It’s easy to understand: these are forgotten areas, invisible to the French central government, where few resources are allocated and, therefore, there are no large infrastructures … All this is generating violence and racism. In the novel, the people of these areas receive a tourism with purchasing power, sees a standard of living that they intuit that they will never have ”.
Generations pass, but both riots in the suburbs and racist attacks on religious issues continue to grow in France. Brunet, who devoted himself to social education – also his parents’ profession – after studying Literature, is clear about the cause: “The social gap is widening between rich and poor and this generates anger and despair. which explodes in two ways: against the government and against everyone who has a little more, even if it is little ”. A reflection that links what the mother does to her daughter Jo: “Life hurts. It’s better not to make films because the end is worse. The black novel, as Brunet demonstrates, does not need many crimes to be so.